Articles by "Freedom of expression"
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German society allows less and less opinion and submits to a dangerous unity thinking. Democracy thus undermines itself permanently, says Christoph Hasselbach.
Comment: Adjust or be silent

"I disagree with what you say, but I would fight to the utmost for you to say it." The disturbers of the lecture of the founder of the right-wing populist party AfD, Bernd Lucke, at the University of Hamburg should take this quotation of the French enlightener Voltaire once to heart. The sentence describes one of the foundations of democracy: freedom of expression. Today, this is more endangered in Germany than many think. 
True, who represents certain, deviating from the mainstream positions, lands in this country certainly not in prison. Formally, freedom of expression is guaranteed. But he is soon threatened by the ostracism of society, at least the dominant part of society.

Ironically, the universities!

The case of Bernd Lucke is particularly extreme. He is not even concerned with the topic of his economics lecture, which had to be stopped twice already and can only take place under police protection. No, the activists are satisfied with the fact that Lucke was one of the fathers of the AfD. Lucke has left the party long ago, just because it was right for him! If it were up to the demonstrators, the man in public should not speak - no matter to which topic.
Hasselbach Christoph Comment Image App
DW editor Christoph Hasselbach
Similar to Lucke, the former Christian Democrat Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière recently met. His planned reading at Göttingen University had to be canceled after a blockade by leftist groups. If universities are not even a place of open debate, where have we come then?  
The generally accepted range of opinions is getting narrower. The majority of the population feels the same way: In several surveys, a clear majority of respondents say that one has to be very careful about what one says on certain topics. Otherwise there would be exclusion and isolation in the circle of colleagues and friends, the neighborhood. And any career advancement will be impossible.
In the first place, most people mention everything that has to do with migration. The so-called rescue of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea is a prime example that everyone is declared a radical inhuman who expresses even the slightest doubt. Everyone knows that the distress is deliberately brought about and forms part of a well-organized smuggling of people from Africa to Europe. Even Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is here swung into the narrow opinion corridor. In his history as a right-wing rebel within the Union parties that means something! 

We put shackles on our thinking

Similarly strict, unwritten requirements apply to climate mathematics. Those who cautiously note that the social aspects of a radical departure from our lifestyle should also be taken into account, are already very suspicious, because he negates the drama of the situation. And those who even professed to be unrepentant meat eaters, long-distance flyers or SUV drivers lose all acceptance as a public figure. Radical climate protectors such as Roger Hallam of "Extinction Rebellion" or SeaWatch 3 captain Carola Rackete , on the other hand, can fundamentally question democracy as a form of government without being sidelined.

The taboo opinions are not on any prohibition list. But everyone knows them. And most people, in their public utterances, hold the boundaries of the zeitgeist for good reason. That's the fatal thing: we put ourselves on shackles. But democracy lives from strife, from diversity of opinion. If the bandwidth is too narrow, because deviants are afraid to speak out, society becomes sluggish. And in the end, it takes on one of its most important fundamental democratic rights: the freedom to express even uncomfortable views.